Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame to induct former commander of the Delaware Air Guard's 142nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, and a retired Del. Army Guard helicopter instructor pilot|
by Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Matwey
166th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
9/22/2011 - NEWARK, Delaware -- A former commander of the 142nd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Delaware Air National Guard, Lt. Col. David F. McCallister, Jr. (1920-1961), a World War II P-51 combat pilot with 131 missions and rebuilder of the Delaware ANG starting in 1948, and a longtime resident of Swarthmore, Pa, before his death in an aircraft crash in 1961, will be one of six aviators inducted into the Delaware Aviation Hall of Fame Saturday Sept. 24 at their 11th annual honors banquet.
Also being inducted is Chief Warrant Officer Five (Ret.) John P. Renzetti, a retired Delaware Army National Guard member from Chadds Ford, Pa. He became a helicopter pilot in 1969 and deployed to Viet Nam in 1971 with a total of 700 combat hours. In 1972 he joined the Delaware ARNG and became a full-time instructor following eight years as chief pilot for an industrial company in West Africa. A Master Army Aviator, he has over 19,000 hours in fixed-wing and rotary aircraft, both military and civilian.
The DAHF exists to honor outstanding Delawareans and the aviation history they represent, with 67 inductees to date. According to the DAHF, all six of the DAHF 2011 class of inductees served in military aviation. Four saw extensive military combat, and two were in the Delaware National Guard. A youth achievement award winner will also be honored.
Colonel McCallister was the winner of a national jet air race, the 1956 Earl T. Ricks Memorial Trophy Race, an Air Force Association sponsored cross country jet race by Air National Guard aircraft and crews. The event began in 1954, and the annual race evolved in complexity over the years.
Colonel McCallister was also an accomplished writer and published author. He wrote poetry and numerous aviation related articles for national civilian and military publications, and as editor-in-chief began the Delaware Air National Guard base newspaper named "The DANG Truth" in 1957. He also co-authored a novel titled "Sabres over Brandywine." An advance copy of the work was buried with him at his 1961 funeral at Arlington National Cemetary, which was attended by hundreds of fellow Airmen from his Delaware ANG unit.
Colonel McCallister became Chief, Engineering Test Flight with Delaware's All-American Engineering Co. With more than 4,000 flying hours, he was nationally known as a strong proponent of military airpower advancement and flying safety. He died in 1961 in an aircraft accident at age 41. Col. McCallister was a colleague and friend to one of the founding fathers of our unit, the late Brig. Gen. (Ret.) William W. Spruance, who was seriously injured in the same 1961 crash.
Colonel McCallister's restored F-86 aircraft "Cindee-Lind 9th," named after his two oldest daughters, is mounted as a static display at the entrance to the Delaware ANG base at the New Castle Airport, next to Spruance Drive.
For a detailed history of Col. McCallister's career visit the Delaware Military History website.
Read about The Earl T. Ricks Memorial Trophy; A Forgotten Jet Age Championship, written by Brig. Gen. (Ret.) (Del.) Kennard R. Wiggins, Jr., from The National Guard Educational Foundation.
To read about Brig. Gen. William W. Spruance and the 1961 crash, see this Air Force Times article written by a local News Journal reporter in January 2011.
The banquet is held at the University of Delaware Clayton Hall Conference Center in Newark, Del. For further information, contact DAHF President Hugh Horning at (302) 655-6191, or call (302) 674-2868, or visit the DAHF website.
The other four inductees being honored, as described by the DAHF:
Daniel E. Coons, Ph.D., of Dover, Del., the founder of the Airways Science Program at Delaware State University which was later broadened nationally via the USAF ROTC program. Since its inception in 1987, the undergraduate degree-granting program has trained and placed hundreds of graduates in commercial, corporate, governmental and military aviation careers.
Nancy J. Currie, Ph.D., of Wilmington, Del., a NASA astronaut who has successfully performed as a mission specialist on four space shuttle missions, accruing more than 1000 hours in space. A retired U.S. Army Colonel with more than 4,000 flying hours as a Master Army Aviator, she is the first female Army officer selected as an astronaut.
John D. Kroening, of Milford, Del., who enlisted in the Army Air Corps for pilot training at age 18 early in World War II. He flew B-25 medium bombers across the Atlantic to Africa. Stationed in Corsica, he flew 65 missions in southern Europe destroying bridges and railroad tracks to disrupt enemy supply lines. He was awarded the Air Medal eight times and the Distinguished Flying Cross twice.
U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer (Ret) John A. Jordan, of Newark, Del. He flew AH-1G Cobra helicopters in Viet Nam for 780 combat hours. Following 20 years of Army service, he joined Boeing/Defense Division for an additional 19 years of aviation service. He is currently employed by Survice Engineering Co. as a test pilot. He has a total of 10,000 accident/incident-free flight hours.
The DAHF Youth Aviation Achievement Award will be presented to Willie Gonzalez, 19, of New Castle, Del. Mr. Gonzalez was a four year cadet in the Air Force Junior ROTC Aerospace Science program at William Penn H.S. in New Castle. During his fourth year, he was Commander of Cadets and No.1 in a corps of 166 cadets. Currently, Mr. Gonzalez is a sophomore at Delaware State University, Dover. Del., where he is majoring in the Airway Science Program.